What do you call a red sapphire? A ruby! Yes, you read it correctly. Like sapphires, rubies are members of the corundum mineral species. Why are they called a completely different name from other corundum? We have blue sapphire, white sapphire, green, purple, every colour, but it is the birthstone for Leo, therefore, it would make sense it would want its own special name.

Ruby has accumulated a host of legends over the centuries. People in India believed that rubies enabled their owners to live in peace with their enemies. In Burma (a ruby source since at least 600 AD—now called Myanmar), warriors possessed rubies to make them invincible in battle. However, it wasn’t enough to just wear the rubies. They had to insert them into their flesh and make them part of their bodies…. (that is a little intense in my opinion)….

The name ruby comes from the Latin word ruber, which means “red”. In the ancient language of Sanskrit, ruby is called ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones”. Leos are the kings of the Zodiac, therefore they get one of the kings of the gemstones.

Famous Rubies

The Sunrise Ruby

Named after a poem written by the famous poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, the Sunrise Ruby is the most expensive ruby in existence (so far). This 25.59 carat Burmese saturated “pigeon blood” color ruby, which according to Sotheby’s “typifies the finest of these gems”, was a part of a private collection from the legendary luxury Maison, Cartier. This gorgeous stone sold for just over $30m (USD) to an anonymous Swiss buyer, three times more than predicted!

Prior to the Sunrise Ruby, the Alan Caplan Ruby was the highest price per carat ruby sold. Sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 1988, the 15.97 carat Burmese precious stone reached a astounding $227,301 USD per carat — $3,630,000 in total. According to Famous Diamonds, this extraordinary ruby was purchased by Graff Diamonds of London, who reportedly sold it to the Sultan of Brunei as an engagement ring for one of his wives.

The Alan Caplan Ruby

The Jubilee Ruby

While emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds regularly appear on the market in important sizes, large rubies of Burmese origin are extremely rare. To find an almost circular-cut, unheated gem weighing more than 15cts, with near-perfect crystallization, is the dream of every gemstone connoisseur. To say the Jubilee Ruby is worthy of a king would be no exaggeration. Until the middle of the 19th century, only the Sovereign of Burma or an individual deemed worthy by him, would have been allowed the privilege of possessing such a magnificent gemstone.

This 15.99ct Burmese ruby ring by Verdura, known as the Jubilee Ruby, sold for $14.16 million at Christie’s New York in 2016. Learn more about this magnificent ruby at The Jewellery Editor.

A well-known cushion cut, 8.62-carat Pigeon’s Blood Burmese ruby – widely celebrated as the most valuable ruby in the world – is a once in a lifetime discovery. In February 2006. It was bought by a famous and credited London diamond and gemstone dealer and luxury jeweller Laurence Graff, known as the King of Diamonds. Graff paid a $3,637,480.00 at Christie’s. It was a new record price per carat of $421, 981. He had named the gemstone the “Graff Ruby”. After that, he sold the ruby to a Greek financier Dimitri Mavrommatis, but realizing his mistake, he changed his mind and bought the 8.62 carat gem for the second time in 2014. He paid 8.2 million Swiss francs ($8.6 million) for the Burmese ruby, at a Geneva auction.

The Graff Ruby

How to Find out More About Ruby:

The GIA encyclopedia is an excellent resource if you want to do a deep dive on a gemstone.

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Bentley & Skinner Ruby and Diamond Bracelet

Currrently in the vault, we have a vintage, circa 1970, diamond and ruby three-line bracelet available for shared ownership.